How to Choose the Right Welding Technical School near Alexander City Alabama
Selecting the right welder trade school near Alexander City AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Alexander City AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Alexander City AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding tech school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Alexander City AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Alexander City AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Alexander City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Alexander City AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Alexander City AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Alexander City AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alexander City AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Alexander City Welding School for Certification
Selecting the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Alexander City AL.